Journey Mapping Mistakes to Avoid

The benefits of customer journey maps – static and living – can be transformational for both your organization and your customers. But your maps won’t lead to an increase in customer loyalty or company earnings if your journey mapping process is flawed.

So why do almost two-thirds of journey mapping initiatives fail to drive change?

Because journey mapping is an art and a science, and doing it right is hard. Which makes it tempting to cut corners and rush the process.

But you’re not going to gain anything with those shortcuts if your journey mapping project turns out to be a huge waste of time and resources as a result. And there’s even more on the line than that.

One failed journey mapping project makes it that much less likely that you’ll be able to muster the internal support needed to try again.

So go the extra mile to do it right the first time. Below are four common reasons for failure, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Doing it yourself

This doesn’t mean you have to use a vendor, it means you shouldn’t keep your team too small. “Too many cooks” might apply in the kitchen, but when it comes to journey mapping, well…nobody eats food that they didn’t help cook.

Okay, I butchered that metaphor. Let me try again.

What I mean is that if in doing the journey mapping yourself you’re not involving your peers in the various silos in your organization, those teams won’t have much interest in the hearing the results, much less acting on them.

Involve a broad, cross-functional team, and set expectations from the start that this is their project, too.

2. Forgetting your customers

Too many “customer journey maps” are still done entirely internally. But you can’t have a customer journey map without involving customers!

I like workshops as much as the next person. (Probably more, if I’m being totally honest.) But a map created by employees during a workshop is a hypothesis map – nothing more than a starting point.

At Heart of the Customer, we find that hypothesis maps typically capture no more than 70-80% of information about the journey. And the remaining 20-30% is the most crucial information, often explaining why a company is failing to engage customers.

The thinking that caused your retention problems won’t magically fix itself just because you brainstorm on tangible or virtual Post-its.

You need to add the literal voice of your customer to create breakthrough results.

3. “Boiling the ocean”

This phrase came up a lot during the 150+ hours of interviews with CX professional we conducted last year. It’s an all too common journey mapping trap to try to map every customer and every journey at once.

The result is so high-level that it can’t result in real change.

Doing journey mapping right involves dozens of interviews and intense analysis. Trying to do this all at one time is often cost-prohibitive. And even when it isn’t (count yourself lucky if you have that budget!), a single journey map can fill your project pipeline for months to come.

If you attempt to do it for all customer types at once, you’ll lose most of your opportunities because you won’t have the resources to take on so many initiatives simultaneously and effectively.

We once received an RFP for an insurance company that wanted to map agents’, customers’, and employees’ end-to-end journeys in a period of three months. Even if they had the budget for such an ambitious project, how could they possibly act in a timely manner against all of the insights we would deliver?

An end-to-end experience map is a great tool to use for creating a CX capability and understanding where the points of friction are in your experience. But it’s typically not targeted enough to build a more effective pre-sales experience, nor will it help you streamline onboarding, because it’s too abstract at that high level.

Conversely, a user experience map of your website might be a perfect way to drive an improved online experience, but it won’t identify customer service issues.

Any successful project starts with a serious discussion about scope. Take the time to determine what you’re trying to accomplish and determine which customer(s) and which journey(s) to map.

4. Thinking you’re done when the map is

Nope! That is actually the point when the real work begins. (One CX executive I interviewed estimated about 70% of their effort came after the map was complete.)

Change comes from a program, not a project. You might score a few quick wins, but they will quickly fizzle out without lasting impact.

Putting your customers at the center of how you operate requires a Change Maker who can use the map to engage the various parts of the organization and drive genuine customer-centric action. You don’t want to take your foot off the gas once you have a map – that’s when you want to floor it!

So if you’re considering a journey mapping exercise, be sure to avoid these traps so that your initiative can be part of the one-third that do succeed in driving customer-focused change.